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He is not here; He is risen!

Posted on Mar 30 , 2016 in Along the Way

He is not here; He is risen!

Imagine leaving everything behind to follow a Teacher named Jesus. Three years of your life. Three terrifying, confusing, transformational, exhilarating, and exhausting years. And then, an empty tomb. What?!? But God had the care to leave a note in the form of an angelic being. Once again, it was Jesus on the move and the disciples catching up – on so many levels! I thank God for the faithful women who passed on the message! They were to go into Galilee, where they would see Jesus. But didn’t the women bump into Jesus as they were going in haste to deliver this incredible message! When they saw Jesus, they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshipped him. What a scene! What a blessing! We are told by Matthew that they were frightened but filled with great joy. And Jesus replayed the original message: Don’t be afraid. Tell my brothers to leave for Galilee. They will see me there.

I have been thinking about what it might have been like for Jesus. I have recently spoken with a family about their father who recently died. We had his funeral at St. Cuthbert on Wednesday, March 16. Just a couple of years ago he ran an Ironman Race. An Ironman Triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile (42.2 km) run, raced in that order and without a break. To finish such a race must be both crushing and exhilarating. And the days following it must feel so incredible to have accomplished such a feat.

In Hebrews 12:1-3 we get some race commentary: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Jesus ‘endured the cross’ (to bear-up under trials, to have fortitude, to persevere). Where someone in an Ironman Triathlon would train in order to bear-up, to have fortitude and to persevere in spite of suffering, Jesus was in perfect shape to do just that. He even bore torture and a brutal nailing to the cross, with the end being dropped into a three-foot hole in the ground, and then being left to die a horrible death. To die on the cross was considered a shameful thing. Where the adage “If it doesn’t kill you it will make you stronger” may be applied to an “Ironman/woman”, Jesus took the finishing line with him – he broke through the barrier of death, conquering it. The result is that we might go free from the bondage of sin and death and the fear and the shame associated with it. And so he says to the women, “Don’t be afraid!” Jesus had run the race and won the contest, overcoming the many obstacles along the way; throwing them off so that they would not hinder him. He rejected any entanglements that would keep him from accomplishing his task, to finish the race. He didn’t get a medal, he sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. “Sitting down” communicates a completed task. The “right hand” is the place of power and authority.

The race that we are in is called LIFE. We can run it well or poorly. Only God is the judge. And in this case, God is also our running partner, in the person of Jesus Christ, and we, the church, are in training together with him. We are called to fix our eyes on Jesus and to keep going on the course that is marked-out for us by the Word of God, illuminated by the Holy Spirit and traced by other believers. This Easter Season may we also run with endurance – and experience the freedom of doing so. Jesus is on the move today and still giving his followers direction. Let us consider well the leading of Jesus so that we do not grow weary or lose heart. At St. Cuthbert, we have received the rough outline of the race before us through our Vestry Meeting and our first Parish Council Meeting. We will be going on retreat soon to further discern God’s calling and to organize ourselves in such a way that we can best respond and communicate with the body of believers called “the Vestry of St. Cuthbert”. We don’t know what the future holds, but we trust that Jesus is our guide; he has run the race, and empowers us to do the same. From Paul’s letter to the Philippians, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (3:14)

Anyone up for a run?

 

Yours along the Way, Pastor Paul

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Advent Letter

Posted on Feb 29 , 2016 in Along the Way

Advent Letter

Advent/Christmas 2015
Some of us look for signs when we are trying to make a decision. “The Bible fell open to such-and-such a passage!” “My girlfriend dumped me!” “I got a raise!” “The biopsy showed it is malignant.” “There are wars and rumors of wars…”
How do we discern the times, and the signs of the times?
Prepare your minds for action! Be self-controlled! Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed! (1 Peter 1:13) And Jesus said, “Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.” (Mark 13:33)
On a more mundane level, signs point the way. As I have learned my way to the church, the sign I most looked out for as I came up 88th was the right turn onto 116th. Now I know to turn there without looking at the sign. We filter out all of the information that we don’t need so that we can focus on the information that will get us to our destination.
Many of us are so flooded with information: signs; symbols; images; and sounds; that if God were to give us a sign it would have to be a significant one – or else we would likely miss it.
The God of mercy has given just such a sign. May we all have eyes to see it and hearts to perceive it.
“Come to Bethlehem to see him whose birth the angels sing. Come adore on bended knee Christ the Lord the newborn King.” (From ‘Angels We Have Heard On High’)
From the Prophet Isaiah, “…The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (7:14)
And from Matthew’s Gospel, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). (1:22, 23)
The signs of all the Christmas trappings: the tinsel; the packages and the wrapping; the carols and the lights; the Crèche with the baby Jesus, Joseph, Mary, and the shepherds… all these are signs associated with The Sign, named Immanuel, which means God with us. God is with you and with me in the person of Jesus Christ. This is the good news we have to share. This is the heart of the celebration! And so let us keep the Feast of the 12 days of Christmas.
Gloria! In excelsis Deo!
Yours in Wonder,
Pastor Paul